“They obviously were trying to be not seen, because they knew that they do something illegal.”

  • Date and time: March 25, 2019 00:00
  • Location: Korenica, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 44.74307158239444, 15.706314759596694
  • Pushback from: Slovenia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia, Croatia
  • Demographics: 8 person(s), age: 24-37 , from: Syria, Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, pepper spray, electric shock, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 12 Croatian police officers, some had bold head, one officer with a light beard had a steel chain
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, papers signed, no translator present, forced to pay fee
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring

Original Report

The group of eight people on the move started in Izačić (BIH) around March 15th, 2019. On March 22nd, 2019, they arrived at an old bridge which crosses the Kupa River, marking the Slovenian/Croatian border. These are the coordinates: 45.4785, 14.9101.

The group was hopeful, as they thought everything would be fine once they reached Slovenia. When they saw a steel fence with an open door on the Slovenian side and no police, they walked through. But just 600 meters further, the group encountered five police cars with 10-12 police officers, seeming to already be waiting for them.

They were caught by the Slovenian police and taken in a van to the police station of the city Črnomelj (45.5761, 15.1900) where they were detained for two days.

A Palestinian translator was present. The group had already heard of this individual prior to their journey from others in Velika Kladuša. It was mentioned that this translator came to work in Slovenia, after he apparently had some problems in Israel. They were advised to avoid this translator. Allegedly, he had repeated expressed in the past that he “hates Muslims.”

During their detention, the translator could only identify the nationalities of the group based to the language they spoke. He didn’t translate any of the  documents that the eight had to sign. One of which was a fine of around 500 Euros for crossing the border illegally. They also took one fingerprint from the respondent.

The group was denied access to asylum procedure.

One individual from the group who was Syrian was brought to a camp in Ljubljana, the remaining seven had to enter a van. They brought them to a border crossing point at the Slovenian-Croatian border, where the Croatian police were already waiting for them. One person saw that one Slovenian police officer gave all the signed documents to the Croatian police, who then destroyed them immediately. As a consequence, none of the people on the move got a copy of the papers.

The Croatian police brought the group to “the Garage” in Korenica. This is an informal structure next to Korenica police station at the coordinates 44.7431701, 15.7062677.

“There was only dirty concrete floor, no toilets, blankets or sponge. We were lying on the cold ground, we were freezing.”

They destroyed their phones with batons, including the chargers. They stole all of their money, their power banks, even cigarettes and food and the glasses of one individual.

The police then made them strip naked and eight to ten police officers started beating and kicking them with their hands, elbows and feet. They further used electric-shockers and a lot of pepper spray. All individuals were crying.

The police seemed concerned that someone would see their outrage, looking over their shoulders several times to make sure, that nobody is watching through the windows on the one side of the garage.

“They obviously were trying to be not seen, because they knew that they do something illegal.”

When the police was done with their physical assault, they drove them, naked, in a car to a river at the Croatian/Bosnian border approximately 24 km from Velika Kladuša. During the whole trip, they turned down the air-conditioning of the inside of the van, which made them suffer and freeze.

Once they got off the van again, around 12 tall police officers, some with bald heads, some with balaclavas, were waiting in the rain with batons and sticks to beat them up all over again. One police officer was also using an about 1,5 m long steel chain, to beat one individual badly on the head. The individual was bleeding seriously, but somehow still managed to run away.

The police officers finally threw their clothes after the individuals in the rain-slicked grass and forced them to walk through the river to the Bosnian side. From there, they had to walk all the way back to Velika Kladuša.

The interviewee concluded with this statement:

“Croatian police is lying to the European Union when they say they don’t beat people, or they don’t steal anything. They do illegal push-backs all the time, hurting and humiliating people. Also, some Slovenian police officers cooperate with the Croatian police, to zigzag the law and make illegal push-backs possible.”